Brooklyn Borough President’s 2014 Latino Heritage Celebration

Thanks to my good friend Farid Ali, co-owner of Bogota Latin Bistro, I had the opportunity to attend the Brooklyn Borough President’s 2014 Latino Heritage Celebration. Brooklyn Borough President Eric L. Adams and Deputy Borough President Diana Reyna hosted an incredible event honoring many Latinos contributing greatly to the communities of Brooklyn.

The evening was full of speeches and award presentations, but it provided an excellent arena to thank and recognize those in the community that have dedicated their time to making Brooklyn a better place. Borough President Adams spoke of “one Brooklyn” and is really working hard at trying to unify the diverse populousness.

I missed the news late last year of Diana Reyna’s appointment as Deputy Brooklyn Borough President so it was a pleasant surprise finding out at the event. I remember her good work in Ridgewood, Queens in the early 2000s. She owned the evening with her command of the Spanish language and overall grace.

There were so many honorees at tonight’s event and I unfortunately cannot list them all in this brief blog post, but I do want to give a shout out to Angelo Falcon for his continued commitment to Puerto Rican politics, community and culture. I also want to mention freshman City Councilmember Carlos Menchaca, whom I finally had the pleasure of meeting. I have heard great things thus far about Menchaca and I am sure he’ll have a prosperous political career.

But my favorite part of the night was getting another chance to see and hear the Speaker of the New York City Council, Melissa Mark-Viverito. I met her once way back before she became a city councilmember. She is the first Latino Speaker of the City Council. She just always gives me a huge sense of Boricua pride and I have always felt that she is truly one of those politicians that really care about people and what she can contribute to the Latino political world.

I would like to thank the Brooklyn Borough President’s Office for presenting the Latino event in partnership with Brooklyn (Kings County) Hispanic Chamber of Commerce and the Ponce De Leon Federal Bank. It’s always incredible being around Latinos making moves and helping others out in the process.

Deputy Brooklyn Borough President Diana Reyna (left) and Melissa Mark-Viverito, the Speaker of the NYC Council, at the Brooklyn Borough President's Latino Heritage Celebration. - Thurs. Oct. 30, 2014.

Deputy Brooklyn Borough President Diana Reyna (left) and Melissa Mark-Viverito, the Speaker of the NYC Council, at the Brooklyn Borough President’s Latino Heritage Celebration. – Thurs. Oct. 30, 2014.


Views of Lower Manhattan from Governors Island

View of Lower Manhattan from Governors Island.

View of Lower Manhattan from Governors Island.

Yesterday I spent the day on Governors Island and took the following incredible shots of Lower Manhattan. As a native New Yorker, I have to say this trip provided me with the most spectacular views of Lower Manhattan I’ve ever seen. The ferry cost was only $2 round-trip. That is an amazingly low price for the ability to capture these magnificent scenic views.

View of Lower Manhattan from Governors Island, take 2.

View of Lower Manhattan from Governors Island, take 2.

Once on Governors Island you can learn about its history, gaze at its historic structures, rent a bicycle to take a ride around the island, enjoy an array of delicious items served from food trucks, and spend the afternoon relaxing at a quaint beer garden. If you have not visited Governors Island yet, I recommend you get out there before the summer is over and enjoy the phenomenal panoramic views of Lower Manhattan.

View of Lower Manhattan from Governors Island, take 3.

View of Lower Manhattan from Governors Island, take 3.

(These photos were taken with my iPhone. Feel free to click on the photos above to get a better view of the actual shoot.)



Samuel Diaz Carrion’s Launch Party for “Our Nuyorican Thing” – Sunday, June 29th, 2014

Samuel Diaz Carrion is having his Launch Party for his recently released book, Our Nuyorican Thing, The Birth of a Self-Made Identity on Sunday, June 29th at 2:00-3:30PM at Taller Boricua in New York City. The event will be hosted by legendary Nuyorican poet, Jesús Papoleto Meléndez.

Poet, writer and activist Diaz Carrion explores the question, “What is a Nuyorican”? and more in OUR NUYORICAN THING. What started out as blog correspondence for the Nuyorican Poets Cafe’s website (2001-2004), quickly turned into a cultural exchange about the Cafe and Puerto Rican culture. OUR NUYORICAN THING is a compendium of those blog entries and emails that also include poetry and short prose through the eyes of Diaz Carrion, a “Puerto Rican Indiana Jones” who has quietly studied “the trade route of a new language . . . collecting poetry and stories as the artifacts of the day.” This collection is riveting, informative and delightful, and will satisfy any reader with a cultural appetite. OUR NUYORICAN THING’s introduction by Puerto Rican poet, performer, professor, and polemicist, Urayoán Noel.

Join Diaz Carrion this Sunday afternoon as he shares his prose and poetry as he enlightens us about the Nuyorican experience.

1680 Lexington Avenue, NYC | 212.831.4333
Entrance on Lexington Avenue between 105th and 106th Streets
Subway: 6 Train to 103rd Street



Movie Review: A Million Ways to Die in the West

If you are a fan of Seth MacFarlane you will definitely enjoy A Million Ways to Die in the West. I was not a fan but I now have some admiration and respect for the creator of “Family Guy” who directed, produced and co-wrote the film. Any comedy western will be compared to the classic Blazing Saddles however there weren’t many similarities between the two films except for a great deal of flatulence humor. For me the movie began a little slowly and I had to get used to MacFarlane’s sense of humor.  Eventually I caught on and found myself laughing here and there and following the entertaining storyline. However overall I found the film to be a bit too violent for a comedy and there were some tasteless racist jokes throughout that I found offensive. The movie is R rated containing explicit sexual content not appropriate for younger viewers.

The movie does have some amazing cinematography and awesome sound effects accompanied by a love story between MacFarlane’s sheep herder character and that of Charlize Theron’s character who is married to a notorious villain played nicely by Liam Neeson. My favorite scenes included any shots of Theron who’s beauty always captivates. Another scene stealing actor in the film is the incomparable Neil Patrick Harris who had some really hilarious scenes.

The ensemble cast also includes Amanda Seyfried, Giovanni Ribisi, and Sarah Silverman. There are also some surprise cameos from actors you’ll remember and enjoy seeing on the big screen again. I enjoyed the film but wished I would have laughed a bit more frequently. On a scale of 1 to 10 with 10 being fantastic I would give A Million Ways to Die in the West a 6 mainly because dying of laughter was not one of the million ways to die in this mediocre comedy western.


#Socialnomics 2014 by Erik Qualman

Any time I find something interesting online I like to share it far and wide. I came across a cool and informative video about social media by Erik Qualman entitled #Socialnomics 2014. I thought I would post the video here and highlight a few incredible statistics. You can check out the full video below.

Here are some facts to keep in mind next time you engage in social media:

  • 50% of the world’s population is under 30 years old.
  • One in five couples meet online.
  • Three in five gay couples meet online.
  • “Selfie” is now a word in Webster.
  • Every second two new members join LinkedIn.
  • Grandparents are the fastest growing demographic on Twitter.
  • 90% of consumers trust peer recommendations.


El Voto Hispano: The Documentary

Image courtesy of

Image courtesy of

In 2050, one in three Americans will be of Latino origin. In 2014, Hispanics will not only influence, they will in some cases decide the outcome of key congressional races that will determine the balance of power in Congress. “El Voto Hispano” is a documentary about the electoral power of the Hispanic vote and what it means for America.

Directed and co-produced by Gianpaolo Pietri, the story follows one voter, one correspondent, and interviews a wide range of prominent politicians during the 2014 Midterm election cycle. The documentary will showcase the Hispanic voting population in the U.S., defining for themselves who they are, what they believe in, what it means to be Hispanic in this new American paradigm, and what role do they play in the future of their country.

Gianpaolo and writer/co-producer Alessandro Pietri have taken to Kickstarter to ask the Latino community for help in funding the project in order to protect against the commercialization of the film and ensure a balanced and objective approach to their investigation.

El Voto Hispano” is a non-partisan effort to create awareness among Americans of the changing landscape in their country’s demographics, as well as, and more importantly, create awareness among Hispanic voters of the importance to exercise their right to participate in the electoral process with their vote.

Over the next seven months, the award-winning film crew of “El Voto Hispano” will study and document how influential Hispanics are in electing winners in key races of the upcoming congressional Midterms in November of 2014, and how their choices shape the agenda for the upcoming presidential election in 2016.

With your support, Gianpaolo, Alessandro, and their production team will bring a better, more comprehensive understanding to the American people about how their country is evolving, expanding, and becoming an ever more diverse and inclusive union of people with varying cultures and ethnicities.

Become part of the process by contributing to “El Voto Hispano: The Documentary.” Donate what you can and share the Kickstarter link with everyone you know. If you cannot donate funds, please feel free to share this information via your social networks.


Wall Ball World – Website/Organization Connects Handball Community

Photo courtesy of

Photo courtesy of

Playing handball is a rite of passage for many kids growing up in the city. The sport helps children, teens, and young adults stay fit and out of trouble. The most popular form of handball only requires a ball and a wall and helps create a community of athletes with a passion for the game.

One person who shares this passion for American handball is Jasmine Ray. She has spent three years developing a website and organization called Wall Ball World. Wall Ball World’s mission is, “To Establish the Sport of Wall Ball as a Vehicle for Inspiring and Empowering Peoples’ Lives.” Last December, CNN en Español profiled Jasmine and Wall Ball World.

Wall Ball World aims to be the hub of all wallball/handball sites across the globe. It also hopes to make a huge difference in the lives of many young people in urban areas.

“There are a lot of handball associations out there,” Jasmine Ray said. “But we cater more to a younger, urban/minority population.”

Jasmine also noted the entrance fees to tournaments sponsored by other organizations make the game out of reach for a lot of people. She wants to keep Wall Ball World tournament fees affordable at about half of what other associations charge. Wall Ball World has also awarded more prize money than other organizations thanks to Jasmine’s fierce pursuit of sponsors.

Jasmine, who was born in Brooklyn, has dedicated Wall Ball World to the memory of her brother Jonathan Robert Ray. The two grew up playing handball together and against local kids.

“When he passed away,” Jasmine recalled “the best way to honor his memory was with a handball tournament.”

Wall Ball World is a 501(c)3 organization that works to bring city-wide intramural handball tournaments to CUNY schools and has worked with Redbull to promote the sport.

Handball helps keep young people healthy by keeping them away from the coach and video games. Jasmine promotes the sport as a way to get people moving.

“I’m going to motivate my people to exercise and I’m going to do it with handball,” Jasmine said.

Wall Ball World is always looking for corporate sponsors who want to help create positive changes in communities of color and accepts donations from private citizens who share Jasmine’s dream.

“I see Wall Ball World becoming international and providing my community an opportunity to see the world through playing their favorite sport,” said Jasmine.

You can help Jasmine make a difference in the community she serves by making a donation and sharing this post with anyone you know who would love to support Wall Ball World.

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